Azerbaijan Attack: October 9 Update

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•Russia is on the evening of October 9 talks between the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan aimed at restoring the ceasefire in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.

Foreign Ministers Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Jeyhun Bayramov began a trilateral meeting with their Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov one day after Russia’s President Vladimir Putin invited them to Moscow for “consultations” on ending the nearly two-week hostilities along the Karabakh “line of contact.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, reported the start of the meeting with a photograph of the three ministers posted on her Facebook page.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Anna Naghdalyan, announced Mnatsakanyan’s departure to Moscow early in the afternoon. Citing Putin’s statement, Naghdalyan said Mnatsakanyan’s “consultations” with Lavrov and Bayramov “will focus exclusively on cessations of hostilities, humanitarian issues of exchanging bodies and prisoners of war.”

Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry also confirmed Bayramov’s trip to Moscow beforehand. The Azerbaijani foreign minister met with the Russian, U.S. and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group in Geneva on Thursday.

As part of the group’s mediation efforts, French President Emmanuel Macron again spoke with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev by phone on Thursday night and Friday morning respectively. A spokesman for Macron told the AFP news agency afterwards that the warring sides could reach a ceasefire agreement by Saturday.

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Hours before the start of the Moscow talks Pashinyan reiterated that Yerevan welcomes the joint Russian, French and U.S. efforts to stop the fighting and restart the peace process.

Meanwhile, fighting in the conflict zone continued overnight, according both conflicting parties. They also accused each other of continuing to shell civilian areas.

•The prime ministers of Russia, Armenia and two other Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) member states discussed in Yerevan on Friday the coronavirus pandemic and its economic consequences for the Russian-led trade bloc at a meeting in Yerevan overshadowed by the war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

In his speeches delivered at the meeting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan mentioned the hostilities, calling them “Azerbaijani-Turkish aggression against the Armenian people.”

“I want to assure you that despite all the difficulties our people are more united than ever before and determined to hold out till the end and defend our freedom and independence,” Pashinyan told his Russian, Belarusian and Kazakh counterparts in his opening remarks.

“I want to specially thank all members of the [visiting] delegations for coming to Armenia in this difficult time,” he said. “We highly appreciate that.”

MORE FROM Armenia & Karabakh

The regular session of the EEU’s Eurasian Intergovernmental Council went ahead even though fighting along the Karabakh “line of contact” spread last week to an Armenian region bordering Azerbaijan. The Armenian military claimed to have shot down seven Azerbaijani army drones in that region late on Thursday.

The interior of the cathedral in Shushi

•The two Russian journalists injured by Azerbaijani bombing of the Ghazanchetsots Cathedral in Shushi will taken to Russia with the governmental delegation.

On October 8 the Azerbaijani forces bombed Ghazanchetsots Cathedral twice. One of the Russian reporters is critically injured. The Armenian Foreign Ministry has announced that the regular targeting of international reporters in Artsakh by Azerbaijan is aimed at preventing them from covering the war crimes committed by Azerbaijan. Earlier two French reporters had been injured. Azerbaijan has banned international reporters to cover the developments from the territory of Azerbaijan.

(Material from RFE/RL and Armenpress were used to compile this report.)

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